Giving Compass’ Take:
• Richard Marker, writing for Wise Philanthropy, explains why the decrease in charitable giving seen in the Giving USA report is not a significant concern.
• Marker focuses on the red flags that he observes as more pressing issues than the decrease, are income disparity and mistrust of institutions. Would it better for donors to address those issues rather than the decline of charitable giving as a whole?
The Giving USA report confirms what everyone thought it would – giving is down, about 1.7% That is indeed real money and affirms what the non-profit advocates and philanthropy sector warned would happen with the tax changes that went into effect last year.
Why, then, is the reduction in charitable giving not my [major] concern?
There have been blips in charitable giving every single time there has been any change in the tax code or tax rates. Sometimes those changes have boosted charitable giving and sometimes they have depressed it. But, over time, charitable giving seems to revert to a mean. In other words, tax changes have served to influence when something is given more than if. If one looks at a long-term giving pattern, it is far too early to know how significant the non- itemization will be for givers of modest amounts. My own prediction is that there will be a gradual return to the mean since Americans seem to have internalized giving as a normal thing to do.
But, that doesn’t mean that there are no red flags, and I believe that those red flags are far more significant than the short-term drop in giving:
- Despite the claim of a healthy economy, middle and lower middle-class incomes have not yet come close to replacing the buying power those earners had a generation ago.
- The deep-seated distrust of institutions is cataclysmic. Nonprofits may fare better than some other institutions, but they are not exempt from this distrust.
- Even if charitable giving were to rise, it may lead us to a false sense that all would be well.
Read the full article about why charitable giving is not a major concern by Richard Marker at Wise Philanthropy.
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